Android Mobile Design Practices (Part 2)

Android is an attractive platform for developers, but not all designers share the same enthusiasm. Making an app look great and feel great across many hundreds of devices with all the different combinations of screen size, pixel density and aspect ratio is not easy. Android’s diversity creates plenty of challenges, but creating apps to run on an entire ecosystem of devices can also be rewarding.


Read Also: Android Mobile Design Practices (Part 1)

In Part 2 of this this article, we continue with our list of practical tips and design considerations for you to create great Android apps.


High fidelity mock-ups are usually the best way to communicate visual design to developers who are responsible for implementation. The Android Design website provides templates in PSD and some other formats. It’s important to try out mock-ups on real devices just to confirm that they look and feel right, with UI components that are sensibly sized and placed. The Android Design Preview tool will allow you to mirror mock-ups directly from your favorite design software to any attached Android device.
A practical approach for mock-ups is to try working against the screen characteristics of the most popular devices. Ideally, you should create mock-ups for each alternative layout required by the screen size or orientation.


Attention to detail is key here. You should become involved in the development process so that your designs are realized. As a developer, try to work with active designers instead of those who deliver mock-ups and resources and then disappear and never come back. Designs need to be iterated and refined while the app develops.

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Animated transitions will provide some visual polish that many Android apps lack. Developers may not include such things on their own initiative. Go ahead and make them part of the design when they really make sense. Besides transitions, animations are also a great way to keep users distracted or entertained when the app needs to make them wait.

User Experience

Android has patterns and conventions just like any other platform. These will help users to form expectations about how an unfamiliar app is going to behave. Porting an iOS experience directly to the Android platform will almost always result in a poor user experience.

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The back button is the best illustration of the interaction differences between iOS and Android. All Android devices have a hardware back button or on-screen navigation bar that includes the back button. This is universally available as a feature of the Android platform. Finding a back button within an Android app layout can feel somewhat odd as an Android user. Some think its difficult to choose which one to use and whether the behavior will be different.


At the simplest level, Android apps essentially consist of a stack of screens. You navigate in to the stack with buttons, action bar icons or list items. The platform’s back button allows you to reverse out of the stack.

The action bar mirrors a web convention. The app icon located to the left of the action bar usually takes you to the top level of the app. There is also the up affordance, which is intended to take advantage of structural rather than temporal memory. This is represented by a backward facing chevron to the left of the app icon. This tells you that pressing the icon will navigate one level up in the information hierarchy.

Up affordance

This allows the user to navigate up an information hierarchy instead of just going to the top level of the app.

The purpose of the up affordance might seem to be a bit subtle at first. Android apps can have a number of different entry points as well as the launcher. The Intent system is designed to allow apps to deep link each other, and then home screen widgets or notifications will take you directly to specific content. The up affordance will allow you to navigate up the information hierarchy no matter where you came from.

One thing you might try is user flows on potential users with wireframes or mock-ups and then iterate. Prototypes on real devices are ideal, since they allow you to test in realistic mobile environments. This might seem like a lot of trouble, but you only need to try things out with just a few users.

The best way to get a feel for Android is by using it every day. Even the most satisfying app designs will have a few things in common. In Part 3 of our article, we will continue to examine more features of the Android OS.

Author Bio: She is suzy spring. She is a blogger. She likes to make a difference in her career so now she is working for KeyDifference. Interested in SEO services, Website designing, Android Apps, Technology.

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